An excerpt from my script review for Nightmare Alley which will be available 01/10/22:

3.) Quality of Characters

Stan’s an antihero.

We get that once he sets Pete up.

(A fact I feel was pretty glossed over considering how quickly it happened and a good portion of the carny folk didn’t trust Stan.)

Once that’s established, the plot plays out how we’d expect, with Stan taking more and more risk due to greed. Risk that will lead to his demise.

What took too long was the getting there, since for the first third of the script, Stan isn’t presented as a bad dude at all, he’s just kind of exists in this carnival setting.

In fact, it wasn’t until he mentions to Molly about running away, that you see he possesses emotion or is capable of some minor development.

And once they leave…I don’t know, it felt kind of cliché.

A selfish guy who only cares about himself, and steps on whoever it takes to get ahead.

Aside from the setting, this felt kind of played out.

And his relationships…

…with Zeena.

A handjob while bathing, I guess. But isn’t she married to Pete? Do they have an open marriage thing?

We don’t know, but Molly asks about it before she agrees to leave with Stan and he just shrugs it off.

…with Molly.

Mentioned in the plot section, his interest in her came completely out of left field for this reader.

At one point she’s helping with one of the shows, and the next he’s drawing elaborate sketches pleading that they’re destined for more together elsewhere.

It was hard to buy into based on the evidence presented.

Not to mention once they do leave we flash forward two years and he’s a complete dick to her because she’s still learning from Pete’s “book of tricks”.

(Shouldn’t she have gotten the con by now? Feels like a few months, not two years.)

…with Lilith.

This one pissed me off the most.

Now I get it, part of him needed her to network with some really rich folks he could con.

But it was more than that…he seemed head over heels for her, willing to do for her what he’d do for himself…split his cash 50/50…dick Molly over…divulge his innermost secrets…drink alcohol when he’s refused it sternly prior to other characters…

And it just didn’t make sense.

Why was he so into her? Could he not see the warning signs that were blinding us, the audience?

The bitch openly admits she records all of her sessions. Of course she’s going to fuck you over!

(So much so, that Stan “geeks” out by the end of the script.)

This story, overall, just needed more meat to its bones.

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